NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Under a new policy, electronic scooters, bikes and skateboards are no longer allowed in residential areas at Yale University.
In a message to students, the university wrote that “storing or charging them in densely populated residential spaces poses a severe fire and safety hazard.”
“It’s a pretty big campus,” said James Cave, a first year at Yale University. “Some walks to campus are 15-20 minutes.”
Hopping on an e-scooter or getting on an e-bike makes getting around Yale’s campus fast and easy.
“I used to have one,” said Teo Falk, a senior at Yale University. “It’s a great way to get around.”
E-scooters, e-bikes, e-skateboards and similar devices are no longer allowed in residential areas on campus, including associated courtyards and other common spaces. The university said approved mobility devices for those with disabilities are exempt from the policy.
“If it’s not that safe, the students shouldn’t use it,” said Jenny Zhu, a graduate student at Yale University.
A June fire at a New York City e-bike shop killed four people when it spread to apartments. Officials said the fire was sparked by a lithium-ion battery.
“As we start to see the proliferation of these, we’re starting to see the proliferation of after-market parts,” New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said. “People who bought these bikes a few years ago, the batteries are now depleted. They’re buying after-market batteries, after-market chargers.”
Alston used his own e-bike to explain the dangers.
“We tend to bring bikes in, and the first place we plug it up is in a hallway and we charge it there,” he said. “Then, when it does cause a fire, it not only blocks residents from getting out, but it also hinders us from getting in.”
Alston said the fast-moving fires sometimes have micro-explosions and release toxic gases.
Alston offered tips to keep the e-bikes safe.
“Make sure it is a certified charging system,” Alston said. “If you have to replace the batteries, it comes from the manufacturer.”
He said to disconnect a bike from the charger if it’s not going to be used in a long time.
There’s been a larger conversation about e-bikes in New Haven as there’s a push for more economic and climate-friendly ways to get around. It’s a topic the fire department has made presentations about to the city’s board of alders.
“We’re going to be looking to possibly develop an ordinance,” Alston said. “We want to make sure we’re crafting it properly so that we address the issues of concerns, but also give residents and visitors the freedom to use this technology.”
As for Yale students, they’re being asked to leave these devices at home. But if they already brought them to campus, the university will help them with storage.